Shubman Gill has scored only 994 runs in 35 Test innings, less than Ravichandran Ashwin at the same stage.
It was supposed to be a glorious year for Shubman Gill. The 23-year-old had made a sensational debut in Test cricket, scoring two fifties in the historic series win over Australia in 2020/21. He had followed it up with a brilliant century in the home series against England, cementing his place as India’s opener for the future.
But since then, Gill’s form in Test cricket has nosedived. He has managed only 735 runs in 29 innings, with two centuries and two fifties. His average has dropped from 51.80 to 28.66. He has been dismissed for single-digit scores 13 times, including four ducks.
In the ongoing series against South Africa, Gill has been shifted to the number three position, after Cheteshwar Pujara was dropped from the squad. But the move has not worked for him. He has scored only 28 runs in two innings, falling cheaply to the pace and swing of the Proteas bowlers.
What has gone wrong for Gill? Why has he failed to replicate his success in white-ball cricket, where he has averaged 63.36 in 26 innings this year.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has a theory. He believes that Gill is playing too aggressively for Test cricket, and not adapting to the different conditions and challenges posed by the red ball.
“I think he is playing a bit too aggressively in Test cricket. There is a slight difference when you play Test cricket vs T20I and ODI cricket. The difference is in the ball. The red ball moves a little more than the white ball in the air and off the pitch as well. It bounces a little more too. He should keep that in mind,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
Gavaskar pointed out that Gill’s dismissals in the first Test at Centurion were examples of his poor shot selection and lack of patience. In the first innings, he chased a wide delivery down the leg side and edged it to the keeper. In the second innings, he missed a full and straight delivery from Marco Jansen and lost his stumps.
“Shubman Gill started off his career so well and we praised his shots. We can only hope that he gets back into his form. Hope he trains harder and does well in the future,” Gavaskar added.
Gill is not the only Indian batsman who has struggled in South Africa. The entire team was bowled out for 197 and 217 in the first Test, losing by an innings and 25 runs. Only Virat Kohli and KL Rahul showed some resistance, scoring half-centuries and century respectively.
India will have to bounce back strongly in the second Test at Johannesburg, starting from January 3, 2024. They will need Gill to rediscover his touch and provide some stability at the top of the order. Otherwise, they might face another humiliating defeat and lose the series.
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